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Education

 

Otronicon is intended to not only entertain guests, but to showcase career opportunities right in our own backyard.

Students seeking out the best path for their future or adults seeking a career change will find Otronicon to be the place to come for more information and direction on careers in interactive technology.

Workshops, Panels, even Career Bytes all serve the same purpose, to shed light in one of Central Florida’s most productive industries.

So, have fun at Otronicon… play some videogames, ride a flight simulator, even test a robot. But know that behind all the fun is an exciting, energizing career path that’s yours for the taking and know that Otronicon can be that first step in an amazing journey!

Here's a look at some of the career opportunities available at Otronicon:

 

Workshops

Focusing on the world of technology and digital media, our workshops cover topics from game design to cyberforensics. Featuring partners from our local industry and educational institutions, join us to discover exciting career pathways and hands-on experiences in these fields. Designed for young men and women, ages 12-18.

 

Panels

Hear from local industry leaders and get their expert advice. In these moderated discussions, you'll learn how people working in the industry today got their start and keep their edge. Designed for young women and men exploring a career path or for those looking to make a change.

 

Career Bytes

These posters were created by Orlando Science Center as part of an educational series for Otronicon. The idea was to highlight career aspects and information beyond just computer programming that are not always associated with the videogame and modeling and simulation industries.

 

To a kid, Otronicon is a dream come true — four floors of video games, robots, virtual reality and more. While the event can be known for the fun that can be had, it’s also recognized for sparking a child’s interest in science and tech careers through the appeal of interactive technology.

The event promotes the concept of “made in Orlando, played in Orlando” with many chances to interact with the creative professionals that make popular video games and discover the growing career opportunities available locally.

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Merrilea J. Mayo is the author of “Video Games: A Route to Large-Scale STEM Education?” published in the January 2009 edition of Science Magazine. Dr. Mayo recently took time to answer some of our questions as it relates to videogames and their effects on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. This is part four in our series.

Orlando Science Center: What recent developments have there been in exposing students to videogames to enhance STEM education?

Dr. Mayo: Probably the biggest development is that "game" is no longer a dirty word. Major institutions - from the National Academy of Sciences to the White House - are investigating and attempting to broaden the use of games as learning tools so the acceptance is now there in a way it wasn't before. Though no real money or initiatives or extensive use of the medium has ensued, acceptance is at least a start.

STEM in particular is an ideal subject for game-based learning. Science and math are so difficult and boring for many kids to learn via lecture, but in the game incarnation, all that cause-and-effect and interaction makes these subjects come to life. There have been jaw-dropping improvements in standardized test scores for middle-school math, for example.

A huge misconception about science and engineering, perpetuated by textbook and lecture, is that they're about facts – they’re not (says me, the Ph.D. scientist/engineer!). They're about being able to make sense out of the unknown (science) and being able to build something that's never been built before (engineering). These things are more easily taught via game.

Merrilea J. Mayo is the author of “Video Games: A Route to Large-Scale STEM Education?” published in the January 2009 edition of Science Magazine. Dr. Mayo took time to answer some of our questions as it relates to videogames and their effects on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. This is part three of that conversation.

Science Center: What should a parent look for when exposing their children to video games for educational purposes?

Dr. Mayo: If parents are looking for an overtly academic game, these are usually obvious from the labeling. The game label will claim to improve your kid's knowledge/performance in Subject A, B or C. You can tell a bit about the quality of such a game from the awards that it has won, which will usually also be displayed on the label. Codie Awards are one sign of excellence in overtly educational games.

If you want to use a game to develop your kid's soft skills, you want a game where the activities demand that skill: strategy games for logic and reasoning; massive multiplayer games for teamwork and interacting with people from different cultures, etc. A lot of times, you won't know exactly what a new game requires until you play it yourself, so download the free trial and have a go.

This is part two of our conversation with Dr, Merrilea J. Mayo is the author of “Video Games: A Route to Large-Scale STEM Education?”. We asked Dr. Mayo for her thoughts on the critical thinking and problem solving skills that might be gained from playing video games?

Dr. Mayo: When people think of educational games, generally, they think of games that are designed to teach classroom subjects like algebra or history. There are a number of games like this, many of good quality. Though, to be fair, most of the better academic games are so poorly advertised they are nearly impossible for the lay person to find. A much larger number of games, including those manufactured for "purely entertainment" purposes, address the so-called "soft skills" or "21st century skills" that people need for on-the-job and life success. These skills are rarely taught in school.

You can be completely antisocial and still be an A student in school. But you cannot be a guild leader or raid leader in World of Warcraft without understanding how to pull together, motivate, and manage 24 other people, sprinkled across several continents, in order to get the boss dragon down.  You can't survive in Starcraft without understanding what amounts to a 21st century game of chess (positioning, strategy and resource allocation). I could go on.

If your child is playing some game that looks like it is worthless, step into that game for a while and see for yourself how much thinking or research or people management is required to succeed. Not every game will, but many do. In truth, anything done at a high level of perfection demands high-level skills. So if your kid is so addicted to Pokemon that he ends up teaching himself Japanese just to read the Japanese websites about it, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Merrilea J. Mayo is the author of “Video Games: A Route to Large-Scale STEM Education?” published in the January 2009 edition of Science Magazine. As a materials scientist and engineer, Dr. Mayo earned her Ph.D at Stanford University in 1988. Her research has focused in the areas of videogame-based learning, educational virtual worlds and cell-phone delivered learning.

Dr. Mayo took time to answer some of our questions as it relates to videogames and their effects on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. We'll post one each day for the next few days. It's very enlightening to see how she views video games as they relate to education.

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Orlando Science Center • 777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • Email: gservices@osc.org
The Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts. This project is funded in part by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program.